Pit Stop – Le Mans Takes The Limelight – By Lewis Brearley

This weekend will be the first for over two months where neither a MotoGP nor a Formula One race will happen.

But for many of the most die-hard motorsport fans, this is the biggest and most important weekend of the whole season, for this weekend sees the 81st running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

While tens of thousands of motorsport fans make the annual pilgrimage to watch the endurance classic first hand, thousands more can enjoy full live coverage courtesy of the Eurosport channel.

The build up to this year’s race has centred on the slow realisation that this could be an Audi walkover, due to the pace difference between Audi and their biggest rivals, Toyota which unexpectedly revealed itself at the Silverstone and Spa-Francorchamps endurance races.

After last year’s event, which saw Toyota run stunning but short-lived pace in what was their first race with the new generation TS030 Hybrid car, the Japanese company were expected to battle Audi closely this year. However, the situation now clearly visible from results of both races already run this season combined with the Le Mans practice session times, is one of Toyota lagging behind Audi.

Yet the Audi team are not outwardly showing confidence. They claim that contrary to popular belief they do actually have a race on their hands thanks to the Toyota being able to run an average on two laps more per fuel load than Audi’s respective challenger.

This means the Audi would need a speed benefit of 1.2 seconds per laps according to the Audi team themselves.

The first practice session from the Le Mans weekend therefore looks extremely positive for Audi, after the fastest R18 e-tron posted a time four seconds faster than the highest placed TS030.

The battle for overall victory may therefore be without tension, but Le Mans is about way more than just that.  The LMP2 class nearly always provides an absorbing race, with around 20 entries this year all with a chance of victory. The class which is arguably the soul of the race sees passionate and experienced privateer racing teams race through the night and into the dawn.

Furthermore, there is the annual battle for GT class honours between Ferrari, Porsche, Aston Martin, Chevrolet and this year’s newbies SRT. In this race the form points towards an Aston-Ferrari battle for class victory but the hugely experienced Porsche outfit can never be discounted.

Le Mans always provides entertainment, and the more hours you commit to it, the greater its repayment. I understand if staying awake all weekend is too much for you though.

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